My father-in-law David is solid like a rock. I have been married to his daughter for thirty-three years. David jokes that he has never quite forgiven me for taking his daughter away, as she was the lead soprano in his choir. To make up for this ‘theft’, I have paid him back by ‘giving’ him three grandchildren. The nicest thing about grandchildren, of course, is that you can fuss over them, and then send them back home!
Over the years, my father-in-law has shown great wisdom in dealing with impossible situations. When others give up, he keeps on moving faithfully forward. I have experienced my father-in-law as someone who never stopped expecting the best from you. Many times over the years, my father-in-law has opened doors for me to speak in situations that would otherwise have been closed. He is a true Barnabas, a Son of Encouragement.
When I have faced enormous obstacles relationally, financially or spiritually, David has always been someone that I could sit down with and pour out my heart. I am blessed with ‘stereo’ wisdom from my father-in-law and my own father, both of whom live just ten minutes from each other. We live in a culture that is often embarrassed by aging and gray hair, but the Good Book says that ‘Gray hair is a crown of splendor’ and a potential sign of wisdom that comes through often painful years of experience. My father-in-law’s wisdom has taught me to be less afraid of aging and gray hair!
‘With humility comes wisdom’, writes King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. My father-in-law is a very humble man, so much so that he wouldn’t recognize his own humility. The Good Book says ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ There is gentleness to my father-in-law that has drawn many hurting, broken people over the years. People instinctively know that David cares. My father-in-law is both a true shepherd and a true gentleman.
I remember when I announced to my father-in-law that I was going to marry his daughter. Because I said it with a smile, he thought that I was joking! But after I got down on my knees, he got the point. I am one of a rare breed of bridegrooms whose father-in-law actually performed the marriage ceremony. My father-in-law is one of three brothers who became ordained as clergy. So you can imagine all the speeches that we had at our wedding reception. My wedding reception, by the way, was so long that we actually had to have an intermission!
One of the most refreshing things about my father-in-law is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Being a wonderful storyteller, he always has a great joke that breaks the ice, and opens people up to deeper spiritual truth. With a twinkle in his eye, David will tell a hilarious story of some mishap that happened as children back on the family farm in Saskatchewan.
It was there in Saskatchewan that he met my future mother-in-law. If there was ever a marriage made in heaven, their marriage was one of them. Filled with much love and perseverance, their marriage inspired many other struggling couples to go the second mile and keep on forgiving. Everything about David and Vera breathed the message of hope and steadfast endurance in the face of great obstacles. Their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ was the open secret of their great love for each other, and for a hurting world. Though it has been ten years now since Vera passed on, she is still fondly remembered.*
My father-in-law has been deeply impacted by the Christian Ashram Retreat movement. I admire people who want to keep growing and learning even into their retirement years. David is always looking for ways to be more loving, more caring, more forgiving, more Christ-like. The Christian Ashram movement is a big part of what makes my father-in-law tick, of what keeps him vital and joyful year after year. If David had one wish for those of you reading this article, I am sure that it would be the desire that you might experience a transformed life through attending a Christian Ashram retreat. My own life has been radically transformed through many years of spending each summer at a Christ-centered Ashram retreat with my father-in-law and family. You are invited to join us this summer for an unforgettable three-day BC Christian Ashram retreat this July. Click on the BC Christian Ashram website, or give us a call at 604-533-5509 or firstname.lastname@example.org . You will never regret making that phone call.
* David has been so blessed to be given a dear second wife Una by the Lord who has joined faithfully into the Christian Ashram family.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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